Wet forecast pushes Kent County Veterans Day Ceremony to Saturday

DOVER — With rain in the forecast for Veterans Day on Wednesday, the Kent County chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America has pushed back its ceremony to Saturday at 2 p.m. at Kent County Veterans Memorial Park off South Little Creek Road in Dover.

It is just another part of learning to adjust on the fly, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dave Skocik, president of the Delaware Veterans Coalition.

“We’re going to be there this Saturday,” Mr. Skocik said. “We had (the ceremony) scheduled for Wednesday, but it’s supposed to rain all day, so we moved it to Saturday at 2 o’clock. We want to keep it abbreviated, so there won’t be any keynote speaker.

“I think that veterans are honored by their families, and I think it’s good that they are recognized. That’s why we’re making an extra effort to have this event. We just decided on this two weeks ago that we’re going to have something.”

While the shorter ceremony won’t have a keynote speaker, it will include placement of wreaths and the reading of names of Kent Countians lost in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East.

Although the ceremony will be outdoors and open to the public, seating for chapter members and families will be limited, with chairs spaced 6 feet apart. All attendees will be required to wear masks and comply with mandated social distancing.

“This was a decision made after multiple inquiries from veterans and the community,” said Paul Davis, the chapter’s vice president, as well as president of the Delaware State Council of the VVA. “People are disheartened with so many events being canceled. Our leadership believes it’s important to honor those who have so faithfully served and continue to do so.”

Mr. Skocik agreed and said that COVID-19 protocols have made it much safer to conduct ceremonies such as the Veterans Day event.

“A couple of weeks ago, a couple of us decided that we really needed to do something out there (at Kent County Veterans Memorial Park),” he said. “Certainly, people understand the restrictions and the concerns about COVID, especially us in our generation, many of us veterans who are in our 70s (and above).

“But people are getting more and more comfortable wearing masks, and we’re going to have socially required distancing. We’ll have chairs set up, but they’ll be 6 feet apart, (and) people handling them will have gloves on, and we’ll make sure that people are wearing their masks. We’re also going to have an honor guard (Eagle Cadet Squadron) from the Civil Air Patrol, and it will be good to see them again, and we’re also going to have our bagpipers from the Dover Fire Department (Pipes & Drums).”

Mr. Skocik will serve as emcee for the event, Lori Christiansen will sing the national anthem, and a child from the audience will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. The Rev. Bill Downing, a member of the VVA chapter, will give the invocation before Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen greets the veterans and their families.

Welcoming remarks will be given by Joe Startt Jr., president of the VVA Kent County chapter, and Mr. Davis before the placement of the wreaths.

The last ceremony conducted by Kent County Chapter 850 was a virtual event on Memorial Day. However, the chapter decided that coming together in person to mark Veterans Day was important for those who served.

The chapter includes more than 230 members and 35 associate members.
The largest in Delaware, the chapter is best known for building the Kent County Memorial Park, which is home to memorials to Vietnam veterans, Gold Star families, Korean War veterans and Middle East conflicts, as well as a Huey “Dustoff” helicopter, a War Dog memorial and a POW/MIA Chair of Honor.

Other Veterans Day events
• Veterans Day Ceremony at American Legion Post 2, 835 S. Bay Road, Dover. The ceremony will start promptly at 11 a.m. with Sen. Trey Paradee, D-Dover, as guest speaker.
• Veterans Day film screening of “1917” at 2 p.m. at the Milton Theatre, 110 Union St. The screening is in cooperation with the Chad Clifton Foundation and is free for veterans and active military.
• The McKee Builders Veterans Day event will honor Champions Club resident veterans and commemorate Frank A. McKee’s support of all veterans. Mr. McKee fought in World War II. A plaque will be revealed and placed on a boulder that will be part of a memorial piece. This event will be held at 9 a.m. outside the clubhouse at Champions Club, 488 Augusta National Drive, Magnolia. The rain date is Thursday. Residents, county commissioners, a Veterans Affair representative and the color guard from a local high school will all be in attendance.
• Through Saturday, participating businesses throughout Lewes will be recognizing Veterans Poppy Week. On Wednesday, American Legion Unit 17 Auxiliary members and the Sons of the American Legion will be strolling in Lewes with canisters. Look for them, get a poppy and make a donation.